Locations surrounding several Marine bases in North Carolina that were ravaged by Hurricane Florence in fall 2018 will now get huge increases in housing allowances.
The Corps said in a command release that basic allowance for housing, or BAH, rates for Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina, are an 8.4 percent increase over 2018 rates. Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point got an increase of 9.9 percent compared to 2018.
The BAH rate increase is a result of a housing shortage and rising rent rates that have impacted the region in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
But historically, Camp Lejeune has had higher rates in the past. A sergeant with dependents could rake in nearly $1,200 a month in BAH in 2016 compared to the new rate of $1,149 for 2019, according to Defense Department data.
The housing allowance for the Camp Lejeune saw a steady decline starting in 2016, and was only $1059 in 2018 — the lowest rate over the last nine years.
Officials with the Defense Department and Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs visited the hurricane ravaged region in November to gauge housing and rental prices in the area, according to the command release.
“The information gathered during this visit combined with the rental data collected earlier in the year was used to set the 2019 BAH rates for these communities that went into effect Jan. 1, 2019," Major Craig Thomas, a Marine spokesman, said in the command release.
In November, Marines headed to Camp Lejeune were being told to look for housing off base due to a lack of availability of on base housing and substantial damage caused by the storm.
Marines in the area being pushed to look for off base housing could be having an impact on local housing rental prices.
“On base housing is not explicitly included in any analysis of BAH rates, as BAH rates are based upon the cost of off-base rental properties and utilities,” Thomas told Marine Corps Times. “However, shortages in the availability of housing on base would be reflected in the cost of rental properties off base based upon the law of supply and demand.”
Hurricane Florence caused a lot of damage to the East Coast, especially with flooding. The storm dropped nearly 20-30 inches of rain.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.